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5 Myths of the Hybrid Cloud

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Cloud computing has been in the IT agenda for some years now, but with it evolving at such a fast pace, many are sceptical about taking the first step into the cloud. SERVAAS VENTER dispels five myths of the Hybrid Cloud.

Cloud computing has been on the IT agenda of most enterprises for the past few years.  However, as you might expect of an emerging technology, it’s evolving fast and, as a result, what some businesses might have understood about public, private and hybrid cloud may no longer be true. It’s clear organisations and IT departments are struggling to understand what a true hybrid cloud is so we’re debunking the top five myths:

Myth One: I have public cloud services. I have private cloud infrastructure. Therefore I have hybrid cloud…

Owning or investing in private and public infrastructures without having a joined-up plan can land you with the benefits of neither but the risks of both. For example, local or industry data protection regulations may require that data be encrypted according to certain protocols or stored within a specific geography. Additionally, the ‘agility’ benefits of public cloud may be negated by the costs required to migrate an app from a public cloud test environment to a private cloud ‘production’ environment.

Furthermore, a well-built hybrid cloud solution should be a blending of public and private cloud environments that share a common orchestration layer.  This means that data is managed and distributed in a way that optimises workloads, storage and network resources whilst, at the same time, limits organisational risk, increases productivity and delivers agility.  Simply deploying isolated public and private cloud solutions isn’t really the same thing.

In short, you must have a plan, and the proper tools in place, to ensure your private and public clouds can work together.

Myth Two: It’s impossible to have a secure public cloud

There’s a myth that only data within the corporate firewall is secure. False. Today, some public cloud service providers offer encryption and security that’s equal to, or might even exceed, that which you get in typical private cloud infrastructures.

Security in the public cloud is about more than encryption though. Shared resources, international hosting and access also have their parts to play.  What’s critical is that the right data is treated in the right way.  Certain types of data should always go to a private cloud, other data needs to go to very specific types of public cloud, and a third category of data can be stored more flexibly.

When partnering with public-cloud providers, business should be asking: “Am I covered by relevant data sovereignty regulation?”, “Who has access to my data?” And, “Can I move the data if I need to?”

Not all data is suitable for the public cloud and not all public clouds are created equal.  This, again, underscores the requirement for an intelligent orchestration layer and a clearly architected strategy to map data to the cloud. 

Myth Three: You can use the public cloud for everything, so who needs hybrid?

Let’s be clear: putting some data or workloads into public resources, unless they are very carefully controlled public resources, could land you in violation of local or industry specific data protection regulations, and at huge risk. The laws around this are different in every market and are constantly under review as a range of breaches, consumer rights issues and surveillance methods are constantly changing our perceptions on how data can best be protected.

Conversely, that doesn’t mean every bit of data has to reside in the private cloud; rather an intelligent approach is required to match data to the type of storage that best meets its needs.

The success of many of the world’s most innovative organisations is built upon well-designed hybrid clouds. Many of our favourite social networks, which juggle millions of users whilst delivering updates and new services, are utilizing hybrid cloud infrastructures.

Myth Four: You lose all control of data in the cloud:

Whilst adoption of cloud services continues to increase each year, concerns persist; fear of loss of control and lack of compliance from some of the largest providers outweighs the significant benefits that businesses could see.  In some cases, these concerns are well founded: some cloud players can make it hard to extract or migrate your data, deliberately or incidentally, by virtue of the mobility of the data or application in question.

Yet it’s possible to retain control in the cloud, as part of a properly orchestrated hybrid cloud environment. A well-run hybrid cloud has the ability to efficiently deliver resources, empowering IT to be a broker of cloud services, providing the control and visibility the IT department needs, and the on-demand self-service that developers and application users expect. Users can easily provision standardised services directly from an application marketplace portal, delivered from private and public clouds, set by the demands each workload requires, but built on policies set by IT.

Myth Five:  The hybrid cloud isn’t for my industry:

It’s easy to think that some industries deal exclusively in data that’s too sensitive to have anything stored in the public cloud – healthcare and finance spring to mind.  But, often, what we mean is that some industries will never be able to put all their information in the public cloud.  And these then become the sort of organisations that benefit most from a hybrid approach.

Sure, hospitals need to exercise the most extreme levels of caution with patient records, but what about catering information? What about data on their laundry?  How sensitive is the stationery order?  You don’t want to bear the increased costs of protecting non-sensitive data in state-of-the-art facilities.  This is where strategic planning of the hybrid cloud becomes so important.

Many enterprises have already embarked on a journey to the hybrid cloud. This will continue throughout 2015 as businesses look to the cloud for burst resources, data protection, archive, storage tiering and more.

This growth is being driven by factors including greater bandwidth, lower storage costs and enhanced security, combined with the need for greater scale. An increasing number of third-platform businesses like Netflix have become adopters of hybrid cloud, driven by the need to scale at a moment’s notice, but who also understand the growing complexities around securing data across international boundaries.

The competitive advantages in adopting a hybrid cloud strategy are hard to argue.  Forward looking enterprises that are able to see through the myths have the opportunity to completely transform the economics of IT service delivery… and their entire business in the process.

* Servaas Venter, Country Manager, EMC Southern Africa

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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SA consumers buy 3.2m smartphones in Q1

Smartphone sales in South Africa grew by 12.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, reaching around 3.2 million units for the period.

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However, the value of the smartphone segment increased by 22.8% as sales of entry-level devices to low- and mid-income consumers continued to drive the market, according to point of sale data from market research firm, GfK South Africa.

GfK South Africa’s data reveals that telecommunications retail enjoyed a strong start to the year, with revenue growing 22.4% year-on-year. The growing popularity of phablets and higher unit prices (as a result of a weaker rand) helped to drive this increase in revenue, against a backdrop of low or negative growth in many segments of the consumer technology market.

“The mobile device market showed good growth in the quarter, despite rising prices during the period under review,” says Norman Muzhona, Solutions Specialist for Telecommunications at GfK South Africa. “In addition to the exchange rate, the introduction of popular, new mid-tier devices by several leading vendors helped to drive higher retail revenues in the telecoms market.”

Information technology retail revenues for the quarter contracted 4.8% compared to 2017, largely because of decreasing monitor prices and a 38.9% decline in tablet revenues. However, desktop computer revenues grew 39% and mobile computing revenues grew 6.5% year-on-year, thanks to higher prices and increased sales of higher-end products.

Says Berno Mare, Solutions Specialist for IT, Office Equipment and Value Added Services: “Retailers introduced new computing devices priced in the R3000 band during the quarter and enjoyed surprisingly strong demand for these entry-level units.

“Telcos enjoyed robust growth in mobile computing retail sales, thanks to credit deals, subsidised contracts and attractive data offers. However, South African consumers are heavily indebted, which may dampen growth for the rest of the year.”

With consumers rapidly migrating to smartphones, sales of traditional mobile phones continued to decline, down 1.6% year-on-year to around 2 million for the quarter. However, the exchange rate and the introduction of higher-priced brands helped to drive a 8.9% year-on-year revenue increase in mobile phone revenues during the period under review.

This follows the 21% drop in mobile phone unit sales in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. “Operators continue to lead the transition from feature phones to smartphones as they pursue higher data revenues,” says Muzhona. “The entry-level market for smartphones is fiercely competitive, and the minimum specs of lower cost smartphones is improving all the time.”

GfK South Africa expects the migration from mobile phones to smartphones to accelerate in 2018. However, it remains to be seen if the introduction of 4G-enabled, Voice-over-LTE-ready feature phones will have any impact on the South African mobile phone market.

Sectors of the consumer electronic market that showed strong growth for the first quarter of 2018 include loudspeakers—revenues up 21.6% year-on-year, thanks to demand of Bluetooth-enabled product—and ultrahigh definition (UHD) panel TVs—where revenues grew 33%, thanks to the growing affordability of the technology. UHD unit shipments were up 76%, while the average selling price of the products fell 24%.

Other market highlights for the first quarter of 2018 include:

  • Photo category revenues were up 8.1% year-on-year.
  • Small domestic appliance revenues grew 8%, following a 10.3% decline in Q1 2016 over Q1 2015. Hot air fryers sold well, as did kettles and toasters.
  • Major domestic appliances showed small year-on-year growth over Q1 2016, despite a decline in average selling price in many sub-categories of this market. Cooling products continued to make the highest contribution to growth in this segment.
  • Office Equipment revenues declined 18% year-on-year, led downwards by lower printer and cartridge sales volumes.
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What kids want online

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Kaspersky Lab’s latest report on the online activities of children – based on statistics received from its solutions and modules with child protection features – highlights children’s online activities and the importance of protecting them when online. For example, video content globally, comprised 17% of searches over the last months. Although many videos watched as a result of these searches may be harmless, it is still possible for children to accidentally end up watching videos that contain inappropriate content.

The report shows anonymised statistics from Kaspersky Lab’s flagship consumer solutions for Windows PCs and Macs that have the Parental Control module switched on and from Kaspersky Safe Kids, a standalone service for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.

In South Africa, communication sites (such as social media, messengers, or emails) were the most popular pages visited by computers with parental controls switched on – with users in South Africa visiting these sites in 69% of cases over the previous 12 months. Software, audio, and video accounted for 17% of searches. Websites with this content have become significantly more popular since last year, when it was only the fifth most popular category globally at 6%. The top four is rounded off with electronic commerce (4.2%) and alcohol, tobacco, and websites about narcotics (3.9%), which is a new addition compared to this time last year.

The report presents search results on the ten most-popular languages* for the last 6 months. The data shows that the video & audio category – including requests related to any video content, streaming services, video bloggers, series and movies – are the most regularly ‘googled’ by children (17% of the total requests). The second and third places go to translation (14%) and communication (10%) websites respectively. Interestingly, games websites sit in fourth place, generating only 9% of the total search requests.

We can also see a clear language difference for search requests: for example, video and music websites are typically searched for in English, which can be explained by the fact that the majority of movies, TV series and musical groups have English names. Spanish-speaking kids carry out more requests for translation sites, while communication services are mostly searched for in Russian.

More than any other nationality, Chinese-speaking children look for education services, while French-speaking kids are more interested in sport and games websites. In turn, German-speaking requests dominate in the “shopping” category. The leading number of search requests for porn are in Arabic, and for anime are in Japanese.

“Kids in different countries have different interests and online behaviors, but what links them all is their need to be protected online from potentially harmful content. Children looking for animated content could accidentally open a porn video. Or they could start searching for innocent videos and unintentionally end up on websites containing violent content, both of which could have a long-term impact on their impressionable and vulnerable minds,” says Anna Larkina, Web-content Analysis Expert at Kaspersky Lab.

As well as analysing searches, the report also looks into which websites children visit or attempt to visit that contain potentially harmful content which falls under one of the 14 preset categories** for the last 12 months.

The mobile trend is again highlighted in the figures for computer games, which are now in fifth place locally on the list at 3%. As kids continue to show a preference for mobile games rather than computer games, this category will only continue to decrease in popularity on computers over the coming months and years.cleardot.gif

“No matter what they are doing online, it is important for parents not to leave their children’s digital activities unattended, because there’s a big difference between care and obtrusiveness. While it is important to trust your children and educate them about how to behave safely online, even your good advice cannot protect them from something unexpectedly showing up on the screen. That’s why advanced security solutions are key to ensuring children have positive online experiences, rather than harmful ones,” adds Anna Larkina.

The Kaspersky Total Security and Kaspersky Internet Security consumer solutions include a Parental Control module to help adults protect their children against online threats and block sites or apps containing inappropriate content. In turn, the Kaspersky Safe Kids solution allows parents to monitor what their children do, see or search for online across all devices, including mobile devices, and offers useful advice on how to help children behave safely online.

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